So you want to expand!
You want to take your business into a new location, a new country or a new continent.
Remember how we did it way back in the day...?
👉Hours on internet trawling and map gazing.
👉Buying subscriptions to those databases that promised in-country listings for sectors and companies in those sectors with contact details.
👉Emailing hundreds of email addresses, I say that as many of them weren’t people, they were dead ends
👉Trying to set up calls from a cold start
👉Setting up some adverts in local trade journals in the hope that someone might see them and make the connection.
Eventually we get enough meetings booked to merit a 2-day trip and we book travel tickets and hotel rooms!
- We get there the evening before and crank up the expenses engine.
- The meetings start the next day – 2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon.
- All cold starts: Introductions, explanations, listening, asking questions, trying to understand each other.
- 2 of these in the morning then break out the company credit card for lunch.
- A train and a taxi on the company to meetings 3 and 4.
- Then the same in reverse to get back to the hotel.
- Meeting an agent to see if we could work with them in the evening for dinner.
A few days of this and we have some decent notes, we’ve given out business cards and brochures, we’ve met some people and we have a slightly better understanding of what might be.
It cost a few thousand in expenses but “it was worth every penny”.
Now we look back and see how inefficient this model was…
Nowadays the smart money uses Digital and Social in combination to put themselves ahead of the competition that are still working to old inefficient models.
Creating digital expansion plans that are founded on data and results that the management team, the board, the Private equity backers, and the bank can all understand and get behind…
Whilst many have hunkered down, waiting for a sense of ‘normal’ to return, other have been working on growth. Preparing the ground for expansion and taking steps to build the digital foundations to support this.
We’ve already looked at one way it was done, now let’s take a deeper dive and do some comparing…
A quick trip back in territory expansion history....
Back then, we had enough of an idea that there was an industry that was of use to us in a specific location. Perhaps our competition was already working there, or we had sufficient understanding that there was a market for us.
We would access lists and buy reports of sectors and organisations active in that region.
We may even have someone do some digging and produce an internal report from internet research and some in information from some people we know in region.
We decided to run a series of discovery visits.
We would call and email around direct targets, indirect info sources, agents, suppliers and see if we could set up enough meeting for a 1- or 2-week visit.
We would arrive in country, travel around the different buildings meeting with people and soaking up information for our new territory report, remembering not to get too annoyed when that big meeting is cancelled with 3 hours to go…
We get back to home base, distil all our findings into a report and make a presentation and present to the board. We might a bit of push-pull on the numbers but, eventually the board gave their blessing to spend some money, whilst reinforcing that there must be favourable results…
We were off, bring on the air miles...!
We set up meetings with prospects in country and before long were we talking to them about their needs and explaining how we might help. The tri-fold brochures, the PowerPoint slides, the Case Studies and business cards were flying across conference across tables….
Within a few months we were feeding back to the board that we were on bid lists and expecting major tenders…we really need to be thinking seriously about people and kit in country!
The world has changed…
As example, in their recent study “5 Ways the Future of B2B Buying Will Rewrite the Rules of Effective Selling”, Brent Adamson and Nick Toman then from Gartner told us:
- Rapidly shifting buying dynamics, fuelled by digital buying behavior, is reshaping the strategic focus of sales organizations. Few sales organizations are responding with appropriate urgency.
- Chief sales officers (CSOs) must engage in a fundamental mindset shift from leader of sellers to leader of selling, embracing digital-first go-to-market.
- Progressive sales organizations will rapidly innovate digital selling models, leveraging the associated analytics advantages to engage customers in a far more coordinated fashion through all routes to market.
- Let’s take some time to think about this statement in relation to your business and your sectors…
So, how do we create a Digital new territory plan today and what does it look like?
It looks digital…it looks like giving your team all the digital skills they need to prospect, network, build relationships and move to commercial interaction from anywhere in the world, at scale - and it tastes like getting this all in place before your competition get the advantage.
Travel may come back as it was, but we can’t bank on everyone willing to have you in their offices.
Where do we start...?
We start by understanding the key to this is building a digital dominance within a sector and geographies. This isn’t achieved with ‘tinkering around with laughing emojis’, this is about Strategic Social Media to drive business growth.
You get your team trained in Social Selling & Influence, they have optimised profiles and understand how to grow our networks and engage in conversation.
We carve out target verticals, sectors, and target accounts and set a digital strategy for each.
In general, we all need 4 things for our businesses…
- Access to markets
- Credibility in those markets
- Meaningful connection in those markets
- The ability to create sustainable commercial interaction
Growing a meaningful network in Region
We design a Social Media connection plan for each region that covers buyers, influencers and people who can amplify our messages within those target accounts and territories.
A common mistake is that people only connect with people they know that are buyers – we need to think strategically here and bring in those influencers and people who can amplify our message into our network.
These influencers and amplifiers may well be out with the account but, are related and useful for us such as, local government, regulators, or industry representatives.
Being where your regional prospects are
Doing this well and doing this correctly requires us to look beyond one platform. This is strategic Social Media, we are looking to dominate a sector digitally, this requires a cross channel campaign.
Look for the right groups to join. When you look at key target’s profiles in country, look at what groups they belong to and join them. Now, all the activity this group sees will come into your news feed. You can also post content into this group to increase your visibility.
You can see the members of the group and connect with those of interest.
Hashtags are important. Find the Hashtags that are relevant to your target country, industry, sector, and companies - follow them and start to use the tags. Now, all of your content that you tag will be delivered directly to relevant in country, industry, sector and company targets.
If you do this well and do it consistently, interaction and network growth will come quickly, and you will be having conversations you would never have had by any other means.
Social Selling & Influence is about having more conversations, not less…
Content planning - Building Technical and Commercial influence
Now you have a meaningful network growing in those target account in your new geography, you can start to produce content specifically for them.
The key is to create a content plan that positions you and your team as the leading technical and commercial digital influencers in the sector…
- Writing content about how you’ve worked there before on that big project.
- Producing blogs about how you have taken your business in to other countries and how well it went.
- Creating video that is related to what you do and how you rise to challenges – not just showing your stuff and saying, “contact me for information”.
Hashtag all of this with the tags you know your audience within that region are following and get it out across the multiple channels you are working as part of the strategy.
This can be further turbo charged with tools such as Sales Navigator which gives advanced leads and company search capability, enhanced lead recommendations and CRM integration, allowing you to find the right people faster, keep track of lead and company changes easier and, enhance reach and engagement with prospects.
All of this puts you in the position that when you do have those initial face to face meetings, you are already qualified as relevant and are now an interesting solution to problems you’ve shown you understand.
Social Media isn’t just for advertising and leads, it’s the very foundation of modern commercial success and can be tuned to any purpose.
- You want to be the employer of choice? Social
- You want to be the trusted advisor in a sector? Social
- You want to be the leading technical influencer? Social
- You want confidence in your pipeline? Social
…and so on.
This is just a brief insight on how it can be done. The real beauty come when we start to work on it for real…
Your competition may be sitting around, waiting for things to ‘go back to normal’, they might be off and running ahead of you.
It’s important your team have all the Social Media skills they need to be able to network, prospect and create technical influence online
They need to be better at all of this than your competition…
Live Social ‘22
If you are serious about Social Media for your business, take dips and changes seriously. Apply tested and best advice and don't sit back waiting for some magic to happen behinds the scenes, take control of the situation and make it right.